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When an oil spill occurs, responders have several options for managing the environmental impacts, including using chemical dispersants to break the oil into smaller droplets, which can promote biodegradation and help prevent oil from coming on shore. GAO was asked to review (1) what is known about the use of chemical dispersants and their effects, and any knowledge gaps or limitations; (2) the extent to which federal agencies and other entities have taken steps to enhance knowledge on dispersant use and its effects; and (3) challenges, if any, that researchers and federal agencies face in their attempts to enhance knowledge.
Fossil fuels are important to both the global and U.S. economies, and “unconventional” oil and gas resources—resources that cannot be produced, transported, or refined using traditional techniques—are expected to play a larger role in helping the United States meet future energy needs. With rising energy prices one such resource that has received renewed domestic attention in recent years is oil shale.
Water is a significant byproduct associated with oil and gas exploration and production. This water may contain a variety of contaminants. If produced water is not appropriately managed or treated, these contaminants may present a human health and environmental risk.
GAO was asked to describe (1) what is known about the volume and quality of produced water from oil and gas production; (2) what practices are generally used to manage and treat produced water, and what factors are considered in the selection of each; (3) how produced water management is regulated at the federal level and in selected states; and (4) what federal research and development efforts have been undertaken during the last 10 years related to "produced water".
The Natural Gas STAR Program is a flexible, voluntary partnership that encourages oil and natural gas companies—both domestically and abroad—to adopt cost-effective technologies and practices that improve operational efficiency and reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas and clean energy source.
EPA has issued cost effective regulations to reduce harmful air pollution from the oil and natural gas industry, while allowing continued, responsible growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production. This EPA webpage includes Information about emissions and the oil and natural gas industry, regulatory actions, technical information, public meetings, and EPA's Natural Gas Star Program.
This page describes the various types of Class II wells and their uses. It also explains how the use of Class II wells protects drinking water resources, and presents the UIC Program requirements for Class II wells to ensure the protection of underground sources of drinking water (USDWs).
Even though we use oil and gas on a daily basis, most people know little about the extraction process, which takes oil and gas from the ground and provides us with material to produce energy, but may also leave behind waste containing concentrations of naturally-occurring radioactive material. Many people do not know about the radioactive waste generated by this process.
High levels of growth in the oil and natural gas (gas) production sector, coupled with harmful pollutants emitted, have underscored the need for EPA to gain a better understanding of emissions and potential risks from the production of oil and gas. However, EPA has limited directly-measured air emissions data for air toxics and criteria pollutants for several important oil and gas production processes and sources, including well completions and evaporative ponds.
On April 17, 2012, EPA issued rules that will ensure that domestic natural gas production can continue to grow in an environmentally responsible manner. A key feature of these rules will require companies to capture natural gas that escapes when hydraulically fractured gas wells are prepared for production -- gas that currently is going to waste in many areas.
This presentation provides an overview of these new rules.
At the request of Congress, EPA is conducting a study to better understand any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The scope of the research includes the full lifespan of water in hydraulic fracturing. The progress report was released in December 2012 and a draft report is expected to be released for public comment and peer review in 2014.
The Body of Knowledge project is dedicated to creating a living reference that represents the collective knowledge of the Safety, Health and Environmental profession. While the preliminary work has begun, there is still more to do. The purpose of this website is to introduce subject areas that will eventually be part of the Body of Knowledge, and to gather feedback on the future direction, and ongoing assessment of what needs to be completed.
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